Test of Time: Reliable Fishing Line
Daiwa J-Braid x8 Grand Braided Line
This line is fairly new on the market, so we hesitated in giving this a Test of Time award. However, its performance has been stellar, and we feel it is worthy of this esteemed recognition. It’s an 8-carrier braid made of a polyethylene fiber called Izanas. It’s reputed to be four times as abrasion resistant as typically tougher four-carrier braids. We didn’t measure this scientifically, but we have used the line in 50- and 65-pound-tests while pro-trolling, backbouncing, hover fishing, and backtrolling for salmon, and jigging for halibut and other bottomfish in Alaska. We’ve also used it for white sturgeon in the Lower 48. In all instances, the line held up extremely well—better than some higher-priced super lines currently on the market. It’s very smooth, quiet through the rod guides, and easy to handle. It comes in three colors (Island Blue, Gray Light, and Dark Green) and the colors don’t fade quickly like some other super lines. It has no waxy coating, so the properties of the line don’t change over time as there is no coating to flake off. It’s available in pound-tests from 6 all the way to 150, depending the size spool you buy (150 yards to 3000 yards).
OPST Commando Head
OPST was the first fly-line manufacturer to come out with uber-short Skagit heads aimed primarily at switch rods, but also single-hand rods and shorter spey rods. Prior to the release of Commando heads, most Skagit heads were 20 feet long or longer, making them extremely difficult for those casting switch rods to effectively cast big flies and sink tips. The Commando head is much shorter and thicker than most Skagit heads, and this design optimizes anchor placement for switch rods. By packing more grains per foot into the head, the payload (the weight of sink tip and fly) that Commando heads can launch was and still is revolutionary. Prior to Commando heads, the idea of launching 10 feet of T-14 with a 4-inch, cone-headed bunny leech to fishable distances with a 350- or 400-grain head on an 8-weight switch rod was unthinkable (and pretty much undoable). Not anymore. Anyone who has wielded a 13’, 7-weight spey rod with a 500-grain head, 10 feet of T-14 and that same bunny leech will be astonished at the reduced level of fatigue they’ll experience using a switch rod and much lighter Commando head to deliver the same payload. Thanks to OPST and spey guru Ed Ward, Commando heads have revolutionized how we Skagit cast for salmon, trout and steelhead. Commando heads are available in grain weights from 150- to 475 grains.
P-line SS Fluorocarbon Leader
This tried-and-true fluorocarbon leader material has proven to be tough over the years on our many adventures. It’s one of the most invisible leader options, especially useful for fishing in clear, low-water conditions. It is available in sizes from 6- to 40-pound-test, in 100-yard spools, which appeals to a wide variety of applications in Alaska. A great feature is their price over comparable options, plus P-Line runs a Buy 1, Get 1 special once or twice a year, making it even more affordable.
Rio InTouch Gold Fly Line
Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of fishing with a lot of floating fly lines. With technologies available today, most are good and do an adequate job of propelling a fly to fish. Specialty lines abound in today’s technique-specific world. The InTouch Gold doesn’t do everything at the highest level, but for an all-around floating fly line, it’s hard to match its performance. We’ve used it on 5- and 6-weight rods to chuck everything from indicator/bead rigs for Kenai rainbows, to indicator/chironomid rigs in Mat Su lakes, to stripping size 8 buggers for trout and char, to presenting size 16 dry flies to grayling. A good all-around line should do all of these things reasonably well. The InTouch Gold is such a line.